Friday of the 19th Week of the Year

Matt 19:3-12

Marriage and Divorce


In his address to a large crowd of married couples, the late Pope John Paul I said: “Marriage is a state in which those who are out want to get in and those who are in want to get out.” (L’Osservatore Romano).

This is getting more and more true in our time. Divorce applications are getting higher everyday. Some of our lawmakers bent on pushing through with the Divorce Bill. From the Christian point of view, however, divorce does not touch the root of the problem and therefore it is not the solution.

Somewhere in Southern Germany there is a proposal to not only legalize divorce but also to solemnize it. Like in a wedding ceremony, they propose that the couple who seek a divorce stand before the principal witness together with other interested parties present as they bid goodbye to each other (Balitang X, Frank Evangelista, DZMM, 4:00-4:30 PM March 7, 2001). If implemented, it would be a blatant parody of the Sacrament.

Divorce already existed in the OT. The Pharisees used this issue to trap Jesus. But Jesus said that Moses only gave in to their stubbornness of heart. Then with a firm stance he explained the sacredness of marriage according to the original plan of the Creator. And putting more weight on it, he declared: ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery and the man who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.”

An old couple in Cebu celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in a hospital room. After the ceremony the officiating priest asked the woman: “In your 60 years of marriage  have you ever thought of divorce?” the woman answered: “Divorce? Never! But murder, many times.”

Marriage is for keeps…for better or for worse…until death. No divorce! No murder! (Sr. Angelita, SSpS Bible Diary 2002)


“Why is the church so cruel? Look at the hell this couple in our neighbourhood is going through. And the children, how they suffer! The church should allow divorce.” That’s what a friend said recently when he told me about the family next door.

Is the Church cruel? Can she be cruel when she only follows the very clear words of Jesus who proposed not so much a law but principle, the ideal as God means it? The Church sees the problem and helps as much as possible through the process of annulment. But why focus so much on divorce, as some lawmakers do? It would be better to put more effort on a proper preparation for marriage so that young people would not slip into something they are not prepared for. A longer relationship before marriage could help partners to know each other’s upbringing and family background, character, habits, and even unconscious mannerisms.

Love can fade away and living together without love can be hell. Routine can take away the thrill of the beginning. To lose a deep appreciation of the good in one’s partner leads to bitterness and even hatred. Excessive criticism, nagging, constant quarrelling kill the last spark of love and create hell on earth.

For sure, Jesus was aware of all these dangers. Still, he insists on the ideal that “what God has joined together, let no man separate.” If couples invite Him as third partner into their marriage, they will be able to sail the rough sea of married life and will come close to the ideal. And if neighbors would not talk like my friend did but help and pray for the couple, many marriages could be saved. (Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


One afternoon, according to an old Sufi tale, Nasruddin and his friend were sitting in a cafe, drinking tea and talking about life and love.

“How can you never got married, Nasruddin?” asked his friend at one point.

“Well,” said Nasruddin, “to tell you the truth, I spent my youth looking for the perfect woman. In Cairo, I met a beautiful and intelligent woman, with eye like dark olives but she was unkind.”

“Then in Baghdad, I met a woman who was a wonderful and generous soul, but we had no interests in common.”

“One woman after another would seem just right, but there would always be something missing. Then one day, I met her. She was beautiful, intelligent, generous and kind. We had everything in common. In fact, she was perfect.”

“Well,” said Nasruddin’s friend, “what happened? Why didn’t you marry her?”

Nasrudding sipped his tea reflectively. “Well,” he replied, “it’s a sad thing. It seemed she was looking for the perfect man.”

Marriages are not made in heaven. There is no perfect marriage, no perfect partners either. Marriage is a work in progress; it does not stop until… the two shall become one…so they are no longer two but one flesh.” (Fr. Glen Paul M. Gomez, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


Some years ago, the parents of my friend celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Understandably, the couple could not march towards the altar anymore; their knees prevented them from doing so! Their eyesight and hearing were also impaired. But when they renewed their wedding vows their voices were loud enough to be heard by all. Attending the ceremony, too, was a former classmate who claimed that she was happily separated from her husband after fifteen years of difficult relationship. I have been in the religious vows for 39 years now.

To be sure, I am making no mistake to think that I have the icing of the cake. The focus of the gospel today is God who offers His unconditional love to all. His love is a gift. All is gift. All He asks is to remember Him as loving us.

“All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.” (Sr. Ancille Elvena, SSpS Bible Diary 2007)


Rambling through the “city of angels” dispirited because of the loss of job coupled with difficulties with some members in the family urging his wife to leave or even divorce him, Antonio got a mild shock to see a sign place at an office window: “Wedding 9in 10 minutes) $50; Divorce (in ten minutes or even less) $50.

Recently, examples from celebrities, TV programs like “Divorce Court” and legislative efforts allegedly done in the name of equality and domestic peace have effectively trivialized the valuable and beautiful institution of marriage God Himself has given to humankind. At the dawn of creation right after God has created man and woman, He decreed, “For this reason, a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one body.”

Later development in the history of the Chosen People, however, obligated Moses to decree that divorce was made possible. The main reason for this modification was the hardness of heart in man, and in some but rare instances, in women.

Some Jewish rabbis of the permissive bent allowed husbands to divorce their wives on the flimsiest of pretexts, such as when the wife is no longer pleasing to her husband because she does not know how to cook or keep house, she develops an unsightly warts or mole in her face or when she is no longer the young and slender girl he married. In such cases a man could write out a document of divorce and fee himself for another marriage.

When the Jews presented the matter of divorce to Jesus, the Lord reminded his listeners that divorce and the subsequent remarriage leads to the grave sin of adultery. This was a hard lesson to take then, and it is a hard lesson to accept now. Jesus then took them all the way back to the beauty of God’s original plan as presented in Genesis. Moreover, He added, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” (Mk 10:9).

Finally, He placed the question of marriage in the context of integrity of the family: the children’s welfare should be taken into consideration when difficulties come up in a home.

Fortunately for Antonio, his wife did not listen to the wrong advise given her; she fondly remembered the years when her husband would wake her from sleep with a cup of hot chocolate, her favourite drink, in his hand. Through their difficult, at times turbulent years of being together, they kept the vows they pronounced before God and man, ‘To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, ‘til death do us part.” (Fr. Flor Lagura, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


When I first visited Las Vegas in 2003, something else caught my attention other than the big and flashing casino hotels. There is a street where civil marriages are held. I learned from my cousin that many people come to Vegas for their civil ceremony. There is one thing you should know about the weddings in Vegas, my cousin quipped: “Today a couple gets married, the following day they get divorced.” This may sound an exaggeration but what is referred to is the prevalence of divorce in the U.S.

This is the modern version of the “hardness of hearts” Jesus is accusing the Pharisees and scribes of in today’s gospel. Today divorce is legal even in countries which used to be the bastions of the Catholic faith. Whereas the Catholic Church continues to defend her teaching against divorce, the leaders of these so-called Christian countries succumbed to modern philosophy that preaches the human right of the couple to divorce when marriage fails to work. It has become customary for modern society to criticize the Church for being traditional and archaic in her teachings, on the one hand, and to proclaim the absolute human freedom to determine what is right and wrong, on the other hand.

Marriage is a sacrament instituted by Christ. God ordained marriage to be sacred and permanent to help the husband and wife and children achieve fullness of life on earth and their salvation. This is the Christian vocation of every human family. This is what is meant by Christ when he argues that “from the beginning it was not so.” Jesus locates the issue of divorce within the overall framework of “God’s will” for humanity and not simply under human rights language and psychology. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say: “The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law,” (2384).

The legalization of divorce in many countries shows that marriage is simply seen as a human institution, detaching it from its divine origin and purpose. On this note, the great modern American preacher Bp. Fulton Sheen once said: “It takes three in marriage – a man, a woman and God. Take away the Lord in marriage and the couple is surely heading towards separation. Thus, to make sure that the sanctity of Marriage is preserved, couples must consciously make God part of their plans and decisions and of daily life. Prayer certainly helps marriages to remain strong. Fr. Peyton rightly puts it, “The family that prays together, stays together,” (Fr. Raul Caga, SVD Bible Diary 2012).


This is how my professor at the seminary explained the sacramental bond of marriage to us. He said: “A man, his mother, and his girlfriend are in a boat on a lake. They have an accident. The boat sinks and they are all in the water. Only the man knows how to swim. He can only save one person at a time. Whom does he save first? In this instance, the bond between mother and child is stronger than the bond between boyfriend and girlfriend. So he is morally obligated to save his mother first.

Imagine now a man, his, mother, and his wife. The same thing happens. However this time the man is morally obligated to save his wife first because the bond between husband and wife is stronger than the bond between mother and child.

This is why the Church admonishes people not to take the sacrament of marriage lightly. Choose your partner wisely and prayerfully. My sociology professor in college used to tell us this quotation: “When going to war, pray twice. When getting married, pray a million times. Married life is not an easy path to take. It involves a lot of patience, understanding and sacrifice. But the underlying force in all these must be love. Without love, no marriage stands a chance of succeeding.  A marriage blessed by God through the Sacrament of Marriage is a union that not only relies on the determination of the couple to make it succeed but also has the special grace from above which definitely makes it stronger.”

Let us pray for all married couples that they may continue to love each other and that they always seek the counsel of God and ask for his blessing as they strive to be faithful to the vows they shared on their wedding day (Fr. Jose Luis “Chito Lorenzo SVD Bible Diary 2015)


August 12, 2016 Friday

A church wedding ceremony always evokes a personal feeling of delight at the thought that there are still individuals who believe in the sacrament of matrimony. Many Filipinos, and young couples elsewhere, no longer give priority to this sacrament. It’s expensive, the procedural requirements are time-consuming, and the legal processes of divorce when marriage turns sour costs a lot.

In the Philippines, one of every ten marriages ends up a failure. That’s still good news; in other countries, failure rate is much higher. In highly urbanized cities like Cebu and Manila, 50% of couples have not received the sacrament of holy matrimony. Marriage is an institution whose sanctity is seriously threatened.  It is heavily influenced by selfish motives and affected by materialism and secularization resulting in disrespect and irresponsibility among its members. Where I worked as a missionary for years, divorce and adultery was legalized. The state argued that it had no business meddling into the private affairs of its citizens.

We believe that marriage is a very special institution. It is a union created and blessed by God Himself for people to participate in the loving act of procreation. A happy and loving family begins with the sacrament of matrimony. It provides special blessings to the couple and the gift of children. It assures peaceful living as a family and definitely sustains a bond that can only be dissolved by death.

The Philippines is one of the last nations in the world to have preserved the bond of marriage as an indissoluble institution. Is it perhaps the reason why the Philippines maintains a high happiness index? May we remain steadfast in our belief in the bond of marriage as we, as a nation of believers, promote responsible parenthood and family nurturance. (Fr. Eugene Docoy, SVD USC, Cebu City Bible Diary 2016)


FEAR OF RISKS: you just heard the strongest biblical phrase for the indissolubility of marriage. You can marry only once until your wife passes away from the world or until your husband passes away from the world.

Marriage is indissoluble and our Christian faith forbids us to enter into divorce or to marry after divorce.

My concern is the reaction of the disciples after the Lord told them that it is not right to divorce or remarry. What was their reaction? They said, “if that is the case, we will not get married anymore.”

They were saying that it was too risky to get married. What if you marry the person and you realize after a few years that he is not meant for you? What will happen to you? You will be doomed to unhappiness for the rest of your life.

For this people it is highly risky to get married. It is dangerous to get married. It can cause your eternal unhappiness. It can even cost you your life.

But you see, brothers and sisters, it is not only those who face marriage that face risks. We priests and religious also face risks. When we tell lay people about celibate life, many young people say, “If that is the case, then i will not be a priest.” It is also risky to be a celibate. You face loneliness. You face the insecurity of old age. You face so man y fears, so many anxieties.

Some of our young people say, “It is better to remain single. Look at what happened to us.”

What I am driving at is, whether we get married or remain single, we face risks. We cannot avoid risks in life because there is no perfect decision or perfect option in life.

What matters, brothers and sisters, is not the risk. What matters is God who accompanies us in the risk. God never promised us a risk-free life. He never promised us a problem-free life. God never promised us a life of ease and comfort and selfish joy. God only promised us that He would be with us ‘til the end of time.

Many of us are afraid to take risks and because of this, we are afraid to make commitments. That is the problem of our age. It is not the risk but the commitment that we do not like to make. (Bp. Soc Villegas DD Jesus Loves You, pp. 228-229)


August 17, 2012

St. Clare of Montefalco
Friday of the 19th Week

Ez 16:1-15, 60, 63
Is 12
Mt 19:3-12

Marriage and Divorce

3Some Pharisees approached [Jesus], and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” 4He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ 5and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” 7They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?” 8He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” 10[His] disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted. 12Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”


Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? We must always remember that God is the author of marriage and God means it to last till the end. God never instituted divorce or separation after marriage.

In marriage, God wills and chooses a person to be your lifetime marital partner. He wants that this person should be your spouse for the rest of your life. It is God who plans that you meet and grow in love. Marriage must be built on love. In love relationship, partners must be God’s gift to each other. A marriage fails when love has ceased to exist among the partners. A marriage fails when God is pushed out of the picture, and human selfishness or egoism sets in.

How is my love for my family?
How do I cultivate the sense of the presence of God in the family?


A young mother of several small children wrote to Ann Landers. Her husband had done something stupid, and she had separated from him. Ann wrote back, “Don’t be stubborn and proud. Take him back. I promise you won’t regret it.”

Years later, another woman wrote to Ann Landers. She had just buried her husband. Eight years earlier she was separated from him, but she went back to him because of Ann’s letter to the young mother.

She thanked Ann for her advice, saying their last eight years together were the happiest of their married life.

Jesus put the highest priority on preserving the bond between husband and wife. Jesus priority must also be ours.

What kind of sacrifice are we willing to make to preserve a marriage bond? “Our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” (Illustrated Daily Homilies Weekdays by Mark Link, SJ published 1987 p. 178)



v. 10: “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” Marriage can be a source of joy or it can be a curse, depending on how one looks at it or make it work. Every husband should pray BMW: Bless My Wife; Bless My Wedding. Make God your partner that your marriage may last forever (Fr. Chjing OP).


From the Beginning It Was Not So…

August 14, 2015 (readings)

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

Matthew 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and femaleand said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh ? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe in your presence here with me as I begin this moment of prayer. I hope in you. I know that you will always take care of me. I want this time with you to be a sign of my love for you. I seek only to please you, without desiring any spiritual consolation for myself.

Petition: Lord God, fill me with your grace so I can meet your lofty expectations.

  1. Hardness of Their Hearts: The Pharisees heard Jesus’ teaching against divorce at the Sermon on the Mount, a teaching which contradicted the practice of the Jews. And so they sought to trap him in this instance into putting his teaching in opposition to Moses. They were hoping to discredit him. But Jesus knew their twisted intentions and grounded his teaching on God’s original plan for man and woman. He knows that they were looking to get around the will of God and carve exceptions. Jesus felt no need to pander to the crowd or offer an easier way out when challenged. His focus was on what God intended. Even today he challenges everyone to respond.
  2. A New Law: Jesus’ teaching seems so counter-cultural, no less today than in his own time. How can he be so bold and ask for so much, since we still labor under the same sin, imperfection and hardness of heart as the people of Moses’ time and his time? The key is that Jesus does not simply add new laws; he brings the grace to be able to live as God intended “from the beginning,” that is, before sin entered the world. Christ can ask more of us because he himself brings the grace for us to live our lives before God in a new way. By grace we are made “new men (and women) in Christ” and transformed into children of God who are empowered to live in holiness and the full truth.
  3. Never Give Up: The disciples seem to be discouraged at first, because the new teaching of Jesus is difficult to live: “then it is better not to marry.” They are seeing things through their own narrow experience and through the lens of popular opinion. Yet they must make the transforming encounter with the grace of Christ. We, too, need to believe in that grace and to communicate it to others, since it enables us to love others “as he loved us.” It is what brings the vitality and freshness to our Christian lives, and makes us able to offer something new and hopeful to the world around us.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, give me the faith and confidence to believe with all my heart that your grace is enough for me. Teach me to believe that your commands are always supported by your grace and that I can live as a new man in you.

Resolution: I will ask for an unbreakable hope in the power of God’s grace acting in me.

© 1980-Present. The Legion of Christ, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Reproduced with Permission of Copyright Owner.


Friday, August 14, 2015

FRIDAY OF THE 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – MATEO 19:3-12. NGANONG GIDILI MAN ANG DIBORSIYO SA SIMBAHANG KATOLIKO? Ang kaminyoon sa Simbahan dili lang usa ka kontrata, kondili sakramento nga maghulagway sa gugma sa Dios ngadto sa Iyang katawhan. Ang gugma nga gipakita ni Kristo mapasayloon ug walay katapusan. Sa samang paagi, ang magtiayon gitawag nga maghigugmaay sa usag-usa, bisan sa ilang pagkatawhanon, ug hangtod sa kamatayon. Sa ilang pagpakasal, gawasnon silang nanumpa nga higugmaon nila ang usag-usa “bisan unsay mahitabo, maayo o daotan, sa kahamugaway o kapit-os, sa sakit o sa maayong panglawas, hangtod ang kamatayon mobulag” kanila. Someone asked a married couple: “How did you manage to stay together for 65 years?” The woman replied: “We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away.” Posted by Abet Uy


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Reflection for August 14, Friday, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr: Matthew 19:3-12

Reflection: A married couple was planning to permanently separate for the reason that they cannot anymore agree on the things that they do. They would always argue and it sometimes leads to physical abuse. So the wife said that there’s no more reason to stay in the marriage.

On the edge of separation a relative advised them to go through a process of marriage counselling. After they went through it the marriage was healed and as they say they lived happily ever after.

From the beginning up until this very moment separation is never in the agenda of God. God’s desire for married couples is to remain married until death. Yet we contradict this agenda of God by introducing separation in the marriage.

But come to think of it, why do married couples separate? They separate because there is an absence of God in their marriage. This is the primary reason otherwise they wouldn’t separate if there’s an active presence of God in their marriage.

When God is left out of the marriage the devil is given the opportunity to create havoc in the couple’s married life. And the devil will never stop until it finally destroys the marriage covenant of the couple.

Therefore, make Jesus an active player in your marriage.  How are you going to do this? Have time for Holy Mass as a family. Have time for prayer as a family and have time for reading and afterwards reflection of the words of Jesus in the bible as a family.

Is Jesus an active player in your marriage? – Marino J. Dasmarinas


August 12, 2016

REFLECTION: In today’s gospel reading, which presents Jesus’ absolute prohibition of divorce, there seems to be an exception to this prohibition, since Jesus specifies that divorce is not possible “unless it be for immorality” (porneia in the Greek text)! Some explanatory remarks might be useful here.

First, Matthew is the only gospel containing this so-called “exceptive clause.” All other parallel texts have no such clause (Mk 10:11-12; Lk 16:18; 1 Cor 7:10-11).

Second, in Matthew’s community, the rabbis had allowed pagan converts who were married to close relatives (marriages prohibited by the Mosaic law—cf. Lev 18: 6-18) to remain in such marriages, considered incestuous in Jewish law. Here Matthew applies the law of Jesus by saying: divorce is prohibited, except in the case of incestuous marriages, which should be dissolved. In other words, the “exceptive clause” constitutes no real exception to the absolute prohibition of divorce when the marriage is lawful.

This absolute stance of Jesus might appear hard to some Christians. But it is the only stance which can save us from social chaos. A look at our divorce-prone society should convince us of that. How many millions of children are deprived of at least one parent because of divorce and grow up in an abnormal setting?


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Friday of the 19th Week of the Year

This entry was posted in .. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s